Water damage represents one of the most significant challenges for property owners worldwide, with both commercial and residential buildings such as schools, hotels, offices, etc. vulnerable to significant loss. Luckily, the advent of wireless Internet of Things (IoT) flood detection sensors is providing a powerful tool in the battle against water loss. These autonomous devices are able to provide real time data to building management tackle the two main issues created by water leaks/floods.
Firstly, they mitigate any damage that the building infrastructure might incur due to flooding, which is costly, time consuming to fix and creates negativity in tenants. This is done via on time alerts and automation so that staff can take immediate measures.
Secondly water loss is mitigated by utilizing automated valves working in conjunction with wireless flood sensors in order to immediately shut off the main valve. Water is a precious resource and water scarcity is already affecting 40% of population and expected to get worse. Wasting water is not an option and optimizing its consumption will become more and more vital in the coming years, thus having a rapid response flood prevention system is essential.
Before diving into how wireless IoT flood detection sensors can help establish automated flood prevention system, it’s important to understand the scale of the problem they are designed to address. According to the American Insurance Association, water damage claims have been growing steadily, with an increase of about 1% annually, making them the second most frequent insurance claim in the United States. Moreover, the average cost per claim has risen to approximately $10,000.
In addition, water utilities companies are reporting an estimated 30% loss of fresh, treated drinking water. This is a huge amount, especially given the fact that it is becoming one of the scarcest resources on the planet. The costs of not optimizing water utilization can have incredibly severe long-term negative effects. Water on the planet is finite, we can’t create more of it and at the same time it is perhaps the most used resource in our society.
As population and economies grow so does food production requirements. Cattle and crop production is already suffering from water resource constraints, resulting in lower than required yields. Add to this the needs of the expanding population for fresh drinkable water and you can get a picture of where things are heading. We simply need to be smarter and more efficient and utilize every drop of water, allocating it to areas it is most needed. Having a leakage/flood is precisely the opposite, diverting the resource from its intended destination.
It has been the norm to see flooding as a negative event from a purely monetary perspective, but this is a short-term view. A longer and more important effect would be resource scarcity, money is an imaginary asset (it does not exist, not really), where water is a real on and a vital one at that.
Wireless IoT flood detection sensors present an innovative solution to this widespread issue. Sensors strategically installed throughout buildings can provide early warnings of potential flooding or leaks, giving property owners a critical window of opportunity to prevent damage. They allow for a real-time response in case there is an event, which can dramatically decreased water waste. Additionally, the sooner the flood has been restricted/eliminated the lower the potential cost of repair/maintenance of the structure is going to be. Furthermore, if flooding occurs and it is immediately dealt with there is going to be little to no disturbance of the tenants (residential), staff (office), students (schools).
To put things into perspective lets look at some example numbers. According to a 2022 study by the property management tech firm, BuildIoT, properties equipped with wireless IoT flood detection sensors saw a reduction in water-related incidents by as much as 90%. Notably, the cost of installing and maintaining these systems was reported to be significantly less than the average cost of a single water damage claim. Additionally, as 90% of flooding cases occur due to corrosion in pipes and fittings which connect to the main water meter at the premises, utilizing an automated valve could be very effective as would limit the leakage at the entry level, rather than further down the pipeline.
Let us look at some specific scenarios where a leak detection system can have significant benefits for flood prevention and result in a lot lower maintenance costs, not to mention save up on the precious resource that water is:
Commercial buildings and offices stand to gain significantly from the implementation of flood detection technologies. They can benefit even more than residential building for the following reasons:
All of the aforementioned make for a much easier time when managing commercial property, which translates into cost and resource savings. A survey conducted by the Commercial Real Estate Development Association in 2023 revealed that properties utilizing IoT flood sensors saved an average of 15% in annual maintenance costs compared to those without. Furthermore, properties equipped with IoT systems saw an 85% decrease in water-related incidents. This more than makes up for the initial investment in provisioning the building with wireless smart sensors.
Institutions such as schools, universities and education centers can also significantly benefit from IoT flood sensors. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, schools in the U.S. spend an average of $6 billion annually on maintenance, a significant portion of which is attributed to water damage. The adoption of IoT technologies can drive these costs down, and the safety benefits are undeniable. A recent report showed that schools using IoT flood sensors reduced water-related incidents by 88%.
Universities for example, especially those that have campuses occupy a very large area, that is a mixture of living quarters and public buildings (labs, halls, offices, etc.). In such a diverse scenario it would be difficult to have an efficient management method for dealing with potential flooding issues without utilizing advanced IoT sensor technologies and systems. Traditional methods would not work well as they would be very restricted, for example:
For the aforementioned reasons it is very efficient to utilize wireless IoT flood sensors. They are cost efficient, easy to install as they require no cabling or power provisioning (good quality ones as the NCD flood sensor have up to 10 years of battery life) and can easily be integrated with a number of platforms for data analysis and visualization.
In addition to this modern IoT systems are designed to be modular, meaning they can easily expand their functionality with additional hardware sensors to provide more metrics and software components to add functionality. For example, a campus encompassing flood sensors system can easily be installed in existing building and its data ingested into a building management system. At a later stage wireless smart valves can be installed in key points that work together with the flood sensors. In case of flood detection an alarm is raised by the flood sensor, the system communicates its new state with the corresponding valve and closes it. At this point the staff is alerted of the issue so actions can be taken in a timely manner.
One could even go a step further by adding addition sensor to collect more data (temperature of the water, a smart water meter measuring water usage, water pressure sensor, etc.) that can be analyzed via AI algorithms in order to predict based on parameter changes potential leakage issues ahead of time. This would be perhaps the most efficient way to limit water waste, downtime and monetary cost. Predictive maintenance systems have already made their way in Industry 4.0 and we are seeing them enter into the building management market as well.
Most modern sensors utilize wireless technologies such as DigiMesh, LoRaWAN, NB-IoT, etc. These are specifically designed to simplify deployments, as no communication wiring is needed, which also reduces costs. Furthermore, it allows to easily scale a wireless sensor network, be it an existing cabled one or completely deploying a new one.
This a feature essential for good quality sensors. As most modern ones are wireless, they are also battery powered, without mains provisioning. This is done in order to make them completely self-sufficient, which translates nicely in allowing them to be installed in locations wired, mains powered sensors would be infeasible. For example, when deploying wireless flood detections sensors that are battery operated in remote locations, like out-of-town properties for example it is very convenient to have them battery powered in case of power outage. Most high-grade sensors have up to 10 years of battery life (NCD sensors fall into this category), which allows to effectively eliminate the cost of maintenance over their life cycle.
This is another feature that is a must given one utilizes a modern wireless sensor network of battery powered devices. If your devices are not within the coverage of your network as their range is poor you will not be able to get your data to the Cloud. Technologies as DigiMesh and LoRaWAN are king when it comes to range and they can do up to 2km of range in urban scenarios (lots of objects like buildings and people, etc.) and 10km+ in open areas.
One of the main advantages of IoT is that it is a field where very small amounts of data are transferred on a per device bases, in contrast to the traditional Internet. It is however a collection of technologies that are to enable network of vast number of devices, numbering in billions to transmit data, thus the ability for a network to scale well (accommodate a constantly expanding number of devices over time) is no less important than range. Here LoRaWAN is king as it has unprecedented range, followed by DigiMesh and Nb-IoT.
All of the aforementioned network technologies have solid security capabilities, they utilize end-to-end encryption so in the event of packet sniffing one would no be able to get a hold of your data. DigiMesh and NCD nodes that it is utilized in uses 128-Bit AES encryption.
This comes last, but it is very important as well. You do not want to be vendor locked, having a device that relies on proprietary software that can not interact with other vendor hardware and platforms. DigiMesh and LoRaWAN are open standards, so they are recommended, plus they utilize open spectrum, that can be considered a benefit as no license fees need to be paid.
The adoption of wireless IoT flood detection sensors can be a game-changer in preventing water loss and damage, as the numbers clearly show. Early detection and intervention can significantly reduce costs related to water damage, particularly in high-risk environments such as commercial and residential buildings, schools, hotels, and offices.
By embracing IoT, we stand to not only make properties safer and more resilient but also to create a more sustainable and water-efficient future. As more properties adopt this technology, we can expect to see these impressive numbers continue to improve.